How to make a difference in 2010

January 1, 2010

The cathedral at sunrise – January 1, 2010

Most of us have been thinking about our resolutions for the new year.

Some want to lose weight.

Some want to exercise more.

I know those are two of my resolutions.

But I’d like to suggest that everyone add one resolution to their list.  Only one.  And it isn’t too hard to do.

Eat less meat.

I’ve been a vegetarian for more than 20 years.  I became a vegetarian mainly because I am too visual.  A cut of meat isn’t just an item on a plate.  It is a bellowing cow with a bleeding chunk cut out of its rear.

When we had our farm we raised chickens for eggs and I know first hand how much they love light and air and picking through weeds looking for morsels to eat.

I’m reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer right now on my Kindle.  And I’m listening to an audio book while I knit – The China Study by T. Colin Campbell.  I highly recommend both books, especially for those of my friends who have been battling high blood pressure and heart issues. (you know who you are)

For example, did you know:

  • Most chickens never experience the outside world and occupy an average of only 67 square inches of space.  (A piece of paper is 88 square inches.  Think about it.)
  • Because of the confined space and intense breeding for traits like large breasts chickens need to be fed water that is treated with antibiotics as well as growth hormones.  They get the antibiotics whether they are sick or not.  Bleah.
  • Most poultry farms soak the birds once they are killed in a water and bleach solution. You might think that it cleans them, but they are soaking along with blood and excrement, etc.  Part of the reason they soak instead of cleaning them some other way is the meat absorbs some of the water, and you pay for it by the pound!

The environmental consequences of so much meat growing is shocking.  I made notes about a lot of the terrible statistics, but the inefficient use of water to grow meat instead of produce and the impact of so much manure on our landscape are two of the most important problems stemming from so much meat eating.

And the kicker for me is that we really don’t need to eat so much meat!  All the protein a human needs is readily available and of higher quality coming from plants.

So here is my challenge to you.  Read some books on the subject and then reduce the amount of meat you eat.  If everyone reduced their meat eating by several meals per week, that would be a start.  I bet you will feel better, lose a bit of weight, have a healthier heart, and a little extra money, too.

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More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

15 Comments
    1. Maybe not such a good suggestion for diabetics who need to eat very low levels of carbohydrates. Without meat it would be very difficult to achieve my carb consumption goals

      For people who do not have problems with carbs, it is a good suggestion.

      1. Ron,

        I can understand your situation, but the way animals are grown, the waste dealt with, and the animals killed is an abomination. If we don’t kill ourselves from all the awful pollution it will be the waste of water or deforestation. Not to mention pandemics that can really get going with so many animals kept in such bad condition and becoming immune to antibiotics.

        I did a bit of googling, thought you might like this resource: http://www.immuneweb.org/lowcarb/

        Thanks for commenting! Take care

    1. The book that changed the way I ate, thought and felt was John Robbins’ Diet for a New America. An easy read and points out all that you mentioned. SO much information in that book. I still eat meat, but am more cautious about where and how I buy it. We have cut WAY down, and in the states, only bought free range, raised our own chickens for eggs, etc. It IS an abomination with the mega farming of animals and we should be ashamed. Although I can’t be as certain here in Mexico, I have a feeling that much of the beef and poultry is raised without all the ablutions used in the north. Cyanide on chickens, hormones, etc. I hate that Tysons is going to start importing more poultry down here. Thanks for bringing this to the forefront again..a good reminder.

      1. Bliss, It is really hard to put this stuff out of your mind once you know.

        Zoe, John Robbins has a new book out called the Food Revolution. I started it but it was a bit dry for an audio book so I’ll wait until I can get it to read. The horror of the meat industry in the US is bad enough, but I wonder about the meat here in Mexico… what kind of rules and oversight there is.

        People really should read these books. The China Study is an amazing book about the differences in nutrition and health over a long period between the Chinese and US people. It is amazing how quickly you can reverse heart disease and lower blood pressure by adopting a plant based diet with meat as more of a condiment. But China now is getting into “big meat” and the worry Foer talks about is what happens if they start eating as much meat as the rest of the world? We’ll be swimming in excrement.

    1. John Robbins and his wife, Deo, were friends of ours in Santa Cruz, where he had a “green” headquarters. Haven’t read his latest. Another scary thiing is that due to all the hormones and additives in meat today, many, many young men are almost sterile. (I guess that could have its benefits.) Re: rules and oversights, despite the so called rules in the states, look at how much meat is “poison” and is recalled, how downed animals are used, oh man…..guess this is called preaching to the choir, eh? I am going to be even more vigilant about eating less meat or using it lightly. This topic could almost use its own folder.

    1. My partner and I live in San Francisco, so fortunately we have a fair amount of options when it comes to food. We subscribe to a meat CSA that provides most of our chicken, pork and beef from local, sustainable farms that raise their animals outdoors with plenty of forage. It’s not certified organic, but they do adhere to organic principles.

      In restaurants I eat vegetarian or fish, after consulting my Monterey Bay Aquarium pocket guide to tell which fish are sustainably harvested.

      If I’m a guest in someone else’s home, I eat what I’m served.

      1. Zoe, Yes, it is a pretty scary thing to think about. Thanks for your input.

        Zannie, Thanks for writing. It sounds like you are making every effort to make sure your food is cruelty free as much as is possible. We don’t have the same kinds of resources here in Mazatlán, unfortunately. I appreciate your comment, hope to hear from you again!

    1. Nancy, we have divorced our desire for animal protein from our thanks to the animal for giving up its life for us. How would we feel if some alien culture raised us for food. IMO, the answer is going back to raising our own food.

      1. Thanks for your comment, Mike. It is so easy to disassociate the styrofoam and plastic wrapped “protein” at the “meat” counter with the life of deprivation and suffering and a painful death. And after all that, eating it makes people less healthy! Sometimes the world is just too crazy for me to understand.

        One thing I didn’t mention that I learned in Foer’s book is that pigs excrete about double what an equivalent size human does. And there are more animals on the planet. And no sewage systems to handle the waste like we handle our own. Bleah.

      1. John, The statistics always amaze me, thanks for the link. And Happy New Year to you and Anita!

        Mexican Trailrunner, I wish there was a way I could get meat eaters to actually read a book like Eating Animals. I know they’d be affected and change their habits. But unfortunately I think it’s only read by those who already “get it!” The overuse of antibiotics in raising animals is really scary, there is a whole chapter on H1N1 and how we are teetering on the brink of more pandemics due to the way the animals are stressed and the resistance to antibiotics. Thanks for commenting and take care!

    1. Hey Nancy, couldn’t agree more! Even if people would just use meat as more of a condiment instead of the center of their meal — 3 times a day! — their health would improve and so would the health of the planet. Don’t guess the Meat Advisory Board would approve tho. . .
      I think one of the biggest threats of heavy meat consumption is the overuse of antibiotics, both by people primarily, and by people consuming animals that have been inoculated prophylacticaly. The rate of antibiotic resistant infections is growing alarmingly.
      Keep up the good posts!

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